Easily Confused Words: Staph vs. Staff

Staph and staff are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Staph is a noun, it’s an abbreviation of the word Staphylococcus. Staph is a bacterial infection that can get escalate if not treated with strong antibiotics.

Staff is a noun.

  • It can be a collective term for all the employees in an organization.
  • It can mean the markings with four long horizontal bars used for writing musical compositions.
  • It can mean a long hooked stick used to herd sheep.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Stefan was stumped about finding replacements when half his staff came down with a staph infection. 


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